Facebook Dating rolled out in Europe after Valentine’s Day no-show

22 Oct 2020

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Facebook Dating has now launched in Ireland and across Europe, several months after the DPC cancelled its Valentine’s Day debut.

While Level 5 restrictions are now in place across Ireland, Facebook is hoping that dating will continue on its new platform. Simply called Facebook Dating, the service is available in Europe from today (22 October) through the standard Facebook app.

It’s based on the idea that users can find someone who shares their interests, and includes a ‘secret crush’ feature that could potentially see you match with someone you’re already friends with on Facebook.

While the social network generally won’t suggest friends as potential matches, the secret crush feature allows you to select up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers who you’re interested in. If one of those people adds you to their own secret crush list, it’ll be flagged as a match.

With physical meetings largely ruled out due to Covid-19 restrictions, Facebook has also included a ‘virtual dates’ feature. If you match with someone on Facebook Dating, you can choose to start a video chat with your match by tapping on the video icon in the chat. The platform also allows for events or group dates.

Facebook was due to launch its dating feature in Europe in time for Valentine’s Day earlier this year. However, it was delayed after Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) stepped in to investigate.

Privacy and security

At the time, the DPC said it had been contacted by Facebook about the launch of the dating feature in Europe that was due to take place on 13 February. However, the DPC said it was “very concerned” that it was only given 10 days’ notice about this launch.

“Our concerns were further compounded by the fact that no information/documentation was provided to us on 3 February in relation to the Data Protection Impact Assessment or the decision-making processes that were undertaken by Facebook Ireland,” the DPC said in a statement.

Facebook then confirmed on 11 February that it would postpone its European launch. However, the service has already been launched in 20 other countries including the US, Canada, Brazil and Singapore.

In Facebook’s statement on today’s launch, the company emphasised the importance of privacy and security on the dating platform.

As well as including the ability to report or block users, current Facebook friends will not be suggested as potential matches and will not be notified when you’ve joined the dating platform. Facebook Dating profiles, messages and matches will not appear in a user’s regular Facebook feed.

“Facebook is committed to making [the platform] a place where people feel comfortable looking for a date and starting meaningful relationships,” the company said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic